Thursday, March 06, 2008

Adoption Through Kaiya's Eyes

As I prepare to bring a toddler to my home from a Chinese orphanage I have been doing my best to prepare myself for what we may be facing. I think a great way to do that is to "get behind her eyes" and imagine what she may be feeling and thinking as she comes home. For us it is an amazing moment- full of joy. For her it is the most intense grief she may ever feel. The loss of everything she knows. I know the homesickness and frustration I may encounter while in China for two weeks is only a tiny touch of what she will feel. Toddler and pre-school is a hard age to face this. Old enough to be terrified- not old enough to understand why.

So do you want to take the journey with me? Let's see it through Kaiya's eyes for a minute.

Imagine for a moment that you are 2 or 3 years old. You live in an orphanage in China . There are MANY children in your house. You have never been alone for even a moment that you can remember. Even at night there is always noise of some kind. There is always activity. You are sometimes hungry- sometimes you get to eat. Your food is dependable. It's usually the same thing each day. You have a very structured routine. You aren't used to being touched very much since the people who care for you are very busy with all of the children. You have only stepped out of your house a couple of times. Most of the time you are in this home with these children. You have never looked in a mirror. You don't know what you look like at all. You are sometimes washed but have never taken a bath. Your bed is very firm and strong and you have never slept on a mattress. You are content with your life. You don't know anything else.

Suddenly one of the ladies from your home scoops you up. She makes a big fuss over you and makes sure you are clean and smell nice. She takes you out of your home into a strange looking thing with wheels. This is very scary but you know you will be OK because your lady is with you. You huddle close to her and wait for this to be over.

You arrive at a different place that you have never seen. When you go inside there are many big people. There are some strange people who look very ugly. They are very different than any people you have ever seen. They are very big and their bodies are very white and scary. You wonder if they are monsters or maybe dying. They do not know how to talk. Every thing they say can't be understood. They are like babies. They babble words that mean nothing to you. The lady monster smiles and takes you away from the lady you love. You begin to cry.... you are very frightened. What is going on? You reach for your lady but this strange monster just holds you tight. Your home lady pats you and then begins to walk away. She is leaving you with the pale monsters! You begin to panic. What should you do??? You are all alone with these horrible, scary people and they keep smiling at you and pointing strange things at you and flashing lights in you face. You will NOT let them hurt you. You will have to fight until they give you back to your home.

The monsters take you to another building. They give you funny objects that are many different colors. What do they want you to do with these strange objects? They begin stacking them and making funny noises with the objects. You think that might be fun. You copy the monsters and stack the strange objects. The monsters go wild. They laugh and smile and smack their hands together. You are a bit startled but the monsters seem pleased. So you stack the objects again. Again the monsters go wild. They are very strange and all they do is sit and look at you.

Soon they scoop you up and dump you in water. This is very strange. You have never felt this before. It is warm and you are not sure you like it at all. You start to scream while the monsters take rags and rub you and pull at your hair. You decide you will just scream until someone gets you out of there.

When you get out they put you in warm clothes. You are relieved that you are still alive. What will they do to you next? They turn out the lights and stick you in a bed like your bed at home. At first this seems fine until you start to feel very scared inside. It is so quiet. Where are the other children? It is so dark. Why are the monsters leaving you all alone? You cry and cry until the lady monster comes to pick you up. She holds you while you cry. She lays down on a big squishy square with you. It is very uncomfortable to lay on but the lady monster has made you feel a little less scared. You can't keep your eyes opened so you drift off to sleep.

When you wake up you are petrified. You forgot that you were with monsters. The monsters hand you lots of things that they want you to put in your mouth. You feel very hungry but you have never seen these things before. Is it safe? Should you eat these weird things? You try one. It is very different so you spit it out. You try another one. OHHHHH!! You like that one. You have never had so much food to eat so you think you better stuff it in as quickly as possible. What if the monsters take it away? You get big fist fulls of food and stuff it in your mouth. The lady monster gets a frowny face. She is not happy. WHY? Is she wanting to take your food away? You yell at her and warn her to stay away from your food.

Day after day you spend time with the monsters. They are not sooo bad after all. The warm water is not as scary as it was at first. Last night you discovered you can splash it and it makes you giggle. When you giggle the monsters giggle and point the flashy thing at you. Every night now you cuddle with the lady monster and you don't feel as scared. Sometimes when you yell she gives you frowny faces and says strange words while she shakes her head. You still don't know why.

One day the monsters take you to a big strange place. You have to sit in a scary seat and they tie you into it. You wonder if NOW is when the monsters will hurt you. You are very scared. If you try to get up the monsters frown and say angry things that you can't understand. So you finally let them tie you down even though you are scared. You cry as the big place starts to shake and make horrible loud noises. The lady monster smiles at you and holds your hand and that makes you feel a little better.

You are in the shaky place forever. Finally when you get off you are in a new land. There are monsters EVERYWHERE! They all look dead and very big. No one can talk. They all say strange things that make no sense. You bury your head in your lady monster and hope they will all go away. Soon you go into a building with your two monsters. In this place there are little monsters. One of them is pale and sick like the lady monster. One looks a little bit like the people you know. They smile and laugh and attack you. They are hugging you and attacking you but you are happy to see children.

What is this place? It smells yucky..... you can't understand anything... the clothes feel strange.... the food tastes funny....

Days pass with the monsters. You start to understand words they are saying. Maybe they DO know how to talk. Sometimes you cry or scream because you miss home so much. Sometimes you like it here and want to stay. Sometimes you are very angry at the lady monster because she took you away from your house. Sometimes you like her and you want to cuddle with her. The man monster is funny and he plays games with you. He is very scary because there were not many big man people when you were at home. The kid monsters are very fun. Although you sometimes need to take things and food away from them to make sure you get enough. They get very angry and yell and tell the lady monster. She shakes her head and makes angry faces.

You have been with the monsters for a long time now. You even know how to understand their strange words. You are surprised that they have never hurt you. You kind of like it here. Now sometimes you are scared they will send you back. You get to eat food as much as you want now. You have gotten used to their crazy foods now. You try not to take toys away from the other kids. The squishy sleeping place feels kind of cozy now and you love playing in the warm water. The lady monster is very kind to you and today you found out she has a name.... Mommy.... Maybe you should stay after all.


Wendi said...

love it, love it, love it! you always have had a way of seeing through 'little eyes'

she's going to the best 'scary' place possible!

Kerry said...

LOVE that ;).

Wendy said...

So touching it brought tears to my eyes. I just had one thought though....I don't think she missed many meals in the home!

You are amazing....

Jami said...

WOW! Angel - that was written so well and made me laugh too but really made me think.

Thanks for letting us see through your sweet daughters eyes.

Jami said...

WOW! Angel - that was written so well and made me laugh too but really made me think.

Thanks for letting us see through your sweet daughters eyes.

Our Real Life said...

Angel what a great story. I think you have done a fantastic job of helping us understand the feelings behind the scared and sad little eyes.

Kaitlynsmama said...

OH so true!
My daughter was 2 years old when she came home (from Korea) and as soon as she spoke English she would ask "am I going to die soon?". I would laugh, but also realized just how much we had disrupted the life she lived and thought she was doing so well with! I wish EVERY family could read this before the child comes into their arms.
(Just imagine if it were printed, handed to each family arriving in China-or any other country- after the family had spent 2 days ONLY among strangers in a strange country...I think "gotcha day" would mean OH SO MUCH more as well as decrease the amount of disruptions that occur)

Scarlett_333 said...

That was beautifully written- I really enjoyed it!!


Melissa said...

What a great mom you are! Kaiya is truly blessed to have a mama who has put so much thought into the transitions she will endure. It truly has to be so scary for a small child to experience so many changes - sights, sounds, smells...everything is completely different. We will pray for Kaiya when the time comes for a smooth transition.

Sara said...

Good post...important to understand their perspective!

Farrah and Jed said...

Oh my gosh Angel....When does your first book release???

That is a perfect effect of how they feel and I felt every bit of it!

Greta Jo said...

Angel, I have been reading your blog for some time. What a great post.
You are doing a wonderful job raising your girls. I can not wait to read more about Kiaya's journey.

The Morgans said...

What a beautiful post!! Thank you so much for opening OUR eyes!

Billie said...

this is really good...especially as a mom that will someday soon bring home their little girl into this unknown territory. It is a good reminder for when she does "act out" to know what she may have lost (and gained ;)


PeWee said...

I think about this all the time for our children as well. It's amazing what we are asking our children to do in leaving everything they know. You put it into words beautifully.

Misty said...

I didn't possibly think I could cry anymore tonight.....and well, way to go Angel! So much truth in all adoptions.....Thank you for sharing. I may share with family members who haven't quite grasp what it is we go through. Blessing to you and have FUN on your trip.

Misty, Maddy, Lyza